Good skin NEEDS to be fed well. Skin that already exists, can be fed well with skincare products. Skin that is much deeper within you, and not yet ‘formed’, or is waiting in line to be ‘born’ needs to be fed by your body. Luckily we have a super amazing and efficient system of turning food into the essential building blocks that make healthy skin. The catch being, we need to feed ourselves the RIGHT food’s for our body to have the BEST shot it can at making super healthy and problem free skin. In our modern day, 24/7, multi-tasking lives, this can be something that gets deprioritised, so here you have it lovelies, here are 4 super supplements for problem skin.
Zinc might sound like a bit of a random supplement for problem skin, I mean, that’s a metal right? We don’t usually go around chomping down on metal, so what is going on here? Well, zinc is what’s called in the science world as a trace-element in most food, that means there is a really, really small amount of it in our diets, BUT that small amount packs a PUNCH! A little goes a long way, so that is why we don’t have to go around chomping down on chunks of metal. Phew!
Zinc gets involved in a HUGE amount of things that happen in our body, one of which is our healing system. Cue the skin ambulance. And another of which is the forming of healthy skin. Call in the midwives! So this ONE ‘food’ is responsible for a lot going right in our bodies. There is also some pretty decent evidence for zinc being a great supplement for problem skin.
- One study has shown that zinc was AS effective as an antibiotic in treating acne. What is great about zinc, compared to an antibiotic, is that zinc will get your body doing something its trained to do, where as the antibiotic is like having to call in a ‘contractor’, to blitz away the good and the bad.
- Several others have shown that people who suffer from problem, acne prone skin have lower levels of Zinc in their blood. Zinc is important for helping vitamin A to ‘do its awesome skin improving thing’, so you could be giving yourself ALL the vitamin A in the world, but if you’re lacking in zinc to help it work, then it’s like putting more and more wood into a fire that’s not lit!
Recommended daily intake of Zinc: 8 (F)-11(M)mg/day with a maximum suggested daily limit of 40mg/day.
Food sources of Zinc: Seafood’s like Oysters, Lobster and Crab are super high, but probably not what you’ll be buying in your weekly food shops! Beef, Lamb, Wheat Germ, Spinach, Pumpkin seeds.. and COCOA!!
Recommended supplement forms of Zinc for problem, acne prone skin: Zinc Gluconate, Zinc Sulphate.
2. VITAMIN A
Vitamin A is well known for its spot fighting abilities, it is THE ingredient in common prescription strength spot treatments. We also recently spoke about Vitamin A being a powerful anti-wrinkle ingredient in skincare. These vitamins ‘ey, they got it going on! Vitamin A is commonly used both in creams and as a supplement for problem skin. It is the GO-TO supplement for making healthier skin, and there are even prescription strength doses of this power-house vitamin.
- If you lack vitamin A in your diet, it has been shown that your severity of acne will increase. Those who are sufferers will know that to have acne, your skin has to have the acne causing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. Vitamin A will help to keep this under control!
- Vitamin A has been proven to help common skin problems like Psoriasis and Rosacea.
Recommended daily intake of Vitamin A: 900(M) to 700 (F) mcg RAE (in sensible language that is known as micrograms or retinoic (vitamin A) activity equivalent’s. Also known as 3,000 IU (M) to 2, 300 IU (F) (IU=International units, that is probably what you’ll find it called on a supplement pack). The maximum recommended dose is 3,000 mcg RAE (for both men and women), that is 10,000 IU.
Food sources of Vitamin A: Sweet potato is one of the highest (YUM!), followed by Beef liver, Spinach, Carrots and Pumpkin pie.
Recommended supplement forms of Vitamin A for problem skin: Retinyl acetate, Retinyl palmitate. Sometimes you will also find pre-formed Vitamin A (Retinol, and Retinyl ester) or Pro-vitamin A, usually as beta-carotene, that means you’re giving your body some building blocks to make Vitamin A itself. Phew! If you want to know ALL the science behind vitamin A and figure out how you can maximise your diet, the National Institute of health has a great review of Vitamin A in diet.
3. GAMMA LINOLENIC ACID
Gamma Linolenic acid, sounds really sciency ‘ey! Well this is just a kind of ‘Fat’, its more likely to be called omega-6 fatty acid, which is essential! That means our bodies cannot make it, they have to be given it. This skin lover, helps to repair and MAKE healthy skin AND acts in the body as an anti-inflammatory. That’s great because a lot of skin problems, are inflammatory, even acne! GLA is a dry skin saviour!
PRO-TIP: Having enough of other skin lovers like Zinc, help’s GLA to do the best anti-inflammatory job it can! A lot of these healthy skin makers work together to make awesome skin, a balance of them is a good idea!
Food sources of Gamma Linolenic acid: Borage seed oil, Blackcurrant seed oil, Evening Primrose oil, Hemp seeds and oil.
4. VITAMIN C
Phew, this guys is just a little power house of skin goodness. Vitamin C helps make healthy collagen, which is one of the building blocks of great skin. If you lack this in your diet in an EXTREME way then you get that age-old skin effecting complaint of SCURVY! This one is effective in a lotion, and when something can do good from the outside-in, it usually follows it can do a whole lotta more good from the inside-out! As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also protect your body and skin from aging, it’s not going to put a full-stop to it, but it absolutely slows it down! Ever cut an apple and seen it go all brown and non-tasty looking? Well it is a chef’s trick to put vitamin C water onto the apple to stop this from happening, it slows down the aging of the apple, and is how you can get those cute pre-cut apple slices in the supermarket!
- Studies have shown as well as increasing collagen synthesis (which is great for skin), vitamin C also reduces melanin synthesis, that is what can be responsible for age spots and hyper-pigmentation.
- Vitamin C has been shown to be useful in a lot of inflammatory skin conditions, so if you have one of these, it is a good bet!
Recommended daily intake of Vitamin C: 75mg (F) to 90mg (M), with an upper advisable amount of 2,000mg.
Food sources of Vitamin C: Red peppers, Orange juice, Grapefruit juice, Kiwi, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts (yuck!).
Recommended supplement forms of Vitamin C for problem skin: L-ascorbic acid.
MY DIET HASN’T CHANGED, SO WHY HAS MY SKIN?
Sometimes you can feel like you have kept EVERYTHING the same, but skin suddenly just makes a huge FUSS. It’s fussing about something, but you’re not quite sure what! 2 of the most common culprits are stress and hormonal changes. These 2 things can shake up our bodies chemistry, and when our bodies chemistry changes, it has to ADAPT all over again. So even though you can’t see these changes, and you might just feel like you’re cruising through a crazy busy period, your body is telling you differently. It likes to think it can speak too!
I HAVE THE SAME DIET AS MY PARTNER – WHY DO I HAVE PROBLEM SKIN, BUT HE DOESN’T?
Thankfully we are all insanely different. That means that one person’s body might be super efficient at using Vitamin A to make healthy skin. Lucky person! While another person’s body might struggle and need a LOT, LOT more of that building block to make healthy skin. Think of it like hair, one person can have lusciously natural, tumble-to-the-floor curls! While another with polka-dot straight hair will need some serious time with a pair of curling tongs to achieve that bounce! That’s the same as skin, one person has the building blocks that make hair curly, another has the building blocks that make hair straight.
Have you been using any supplements or Foods which have helped your skin?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.